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Ebola: Air France flight from Paris held in Spain

UPDATED: An Air France flight from Paris was grounded in Madrid on Thursday after passenger fell ill. The sick man, who had just returned from Africa has been isolated while tests are carried out. He complained of shivering but is not reported to have had a fever.

Ebola: Air France flight from Paris held in Spain
An Air France plane was grounded in Madrid on Thursday over fears a passenger had contracted Ebola. Photo: AFP

BREAKING NEWS: French nurse in Paris suspected of having Ebola

Spain on Thursday activated emergency health procedures at Madrid's Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport after a passenger on an Air France flight from Paris complained of shivering.

However airline sources told The Local that initial indications suggested this was not a case of Ebola. Nevertheless the passenger, who was on a connecting flight from Paris after returning from Africa, has been taken to a hospital in the Spanish capital where he will be isolated until medical tests are carried out.

The crew of the plane alerted health authorities on the ground in Barajas when they became aware the passenger was unwell, according to Spanish news agency Europa Press.

The plane carrying 183 passengers left Charles de Gaulle in Paris at 9.35am and arrived at 11.30am, national daily El País reported.

Sources at Air France told Europa Press passengers had disembarked "normally".

An Air France spokesperson told The Local the passenger, had been isolated for medical checks.

According to the airline the passenger did not show signs of having a fever, contradicting some Spanish media reports.

"Initial indications are that its not a case of Ebola," a spokesman told The Local, although he said medical investigations were ongoing.
 
"We understand the passenger did not have a temperature."
 
Air France say the plane will remain in Madrid to be "disinfected".
 
The aircraft is currently at a remote parking by at Madrid airport, and authorities are waiting for at least one ambulance so that the isolated passenger can be transferred to Madrid's Carlos III hospital, news agency Efe has reported.
 
He will remain at the facility until tests confirming whether has Ebola or not have been carried out, El Mundo have reported. 
 
Carlos III is the hospital where the Spanish nursing assistant with Ebola, Teresa Romero, is currently receiving treatment.
 
On Saturday France will step up its safety checks in response to Ebola fears by screening passengers arriving at airports on flights from affected countries. 

 
*An earlier version of this story said the flight was heading to Paris when the alarm was raised, but in fact it had just arrived from the French capital. 

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HOLLANDE

Ebola: Hollande to be first leader to visit region

French President Francois Hollande will on Friday begin a visit to Guinea, making him the first Western leader to travel to a country hit hard by the deadly Ebola virus.

Ebola: Hollande to be first leader to visit region
Guinean Red Cross workers wearing protective suits carry the corpse of a victim of Ebola in Macenta. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Guinea has already lost 1,200 people to the disease which has killed over 5,600 in total and infected almost 16,000, mainly in west Africa, according to World Health Organization figures.

The visit, the first by a French president since 1999, is a bid to deliver "a message of solidarity" to Guinea as it battles the worst outbreak of Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976.

France has pledged 100 million euros ($125 million) as a contribution in the fight against Ebola, focusing its efforts on Guinea.

The money is due to help with financing several care centres in Guinea as well as funding 200 beds, some of which are reserved for health workers caring for the sick.

France has also pledged to set up two training centres for health workers, one in France and one in Guinea. In addition, French biotechnology companies will set up rapid diagnostic tests in Africa.

During the trip, Hollande was due to visit healthcare facilities, participate in a round-table discussion on Ebola as well as hold talks with his Guinean counterpart Alpha Conde.

After the one-day trip to Guinea, Hollande travels to Dakar to take part in a summit of French-speaking leaders that is likely to be dominated by the Ebola crisis as well as the recent unrest in Burkina Faso.

The OIF (International Organisation of French-Speakers) is expected to appoint a successor to former Senegalese leader Abdou Diouf.

However, there is no clear front-runner from the five main candidates, with a French government source telling AFP: "Anything could happen, including a last-minute candidate."

The OIF was founded in 1970 with the ambition to be a "French Commonwealth", a rival to the mainly English-speaking group of countries that are predominantly former British colonies.

But it is battling to find its relevance and retain its funding at a time when many governments find their budgets under pressure. France reduced its funding for the group by 20 percent this year.

French is currently spoken by close to 274 million people, with more than 50 percent of those in Africa — the 5th most spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic or Hindu depending on how it is calculated.

By 2050, the percentage of French speakers based in Africa is due to rise to 85 percent, with 700 million Francophones expected on the continent by then.

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